0210 GMT January 23, 2021
Clashes between federal troops and Tigrayan forces had broken out in eight locations in the region, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report released Saturday.
Six combatants were killed and more than 60 wounded in fighting near the border between the Tigray and Amhara regions, with casualties on both sides, a humanitarian source told Reuters on Sunday.
The OCHA report said about 600,000 people in Tigray depend on food aid to survive, while another 1 million receive other forms of support, all of which are disrupted.
Abiy won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize for making peace with neighboring Eritrea after decades of hostility, including a 1998-2000 war that claimed more than 100,000 lives.
His military campaign “aims to end the impunity that has prevailed for far too long”, he said on Saturday. Tigrayans complain of persecution under Abiy, an ethnic Oromo, who ordered the arrest of dozens of former senior military and political officials from the TPLF in a crackdown on corruption. Last year, Abiy reorganized the ruling coalition into a single party that the TPLF refused to join.
Ethiopians should ensure Tigrayans are not victimized “due to their identity”, Abiy wrote on Twitter on Sunday, calling the leaders of Tigray a “greedy junta”.
Experts and diplomats are sounding alarms of a potential civil war that could destabilize the country of 110 million people and the strategic Horn of Africa region.
The federal military’s biggest command, and the majority of its heavy weapons, are stationed in Tigray. One of the biggest risks is that the army will split along ethnic lines, with Tigrayans defecting to their region’s own force. There are signs that is already happening, analysts say.